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Hey, I'm a snake!

Here's our nominee for quote of the week, from County Legislature Minority Leader Robert L. Seger of North Tonawanda, who prefers to be called an elected official rather than a politician:

"An elected official is a statesman. A politician is a snake."

Legislature Chairman Clyde L. Burmaster presumably sees a need for reptile control. After Seger announced a resolution requesting the resignation of Legislator James W. Ward, R-Newfane, Burmaster commented, "I think that's pretty low politics."

Tasting the waters

The Niagara River and the falls may be an awesome sight, but most of us know better than to consider drinking the water.

Chemical contamination of the Niagara River is well known.

So it was with some amusement that local author and historian Paul Gromosiak discovered a water-bottling outfit in Irvine, Calif., that sells "Niagara drinking water, pure quality since 1963."

The company calls itself, simply, "Niagara Water."

OK, so it's not actually bottled in Niagara Falls, and apparently sold mainly in the West and Southwest, but at least the irony in the company's name and claim is pure.

The colorful label on the bottles shows a panoramic view of the falls and proclaims: "This water comes to you from our protected artesian well which reaches 510 feet below the Earth's surface. The pure water in this container is bottled at the source. Taste the pure difference."

So where's the Niagara connection? Andy Peykoff Jr. runs the company with his father, who used to live in the Buffalo area. When the senior Peykoff went out to California and started the water bottling company, he thought Niagara would be a catchy name.

The company is currently offering a four-pack of 16.9-ounce bottles at the bargain price of 88 cents. So maybe word about Niagara water is getting around.

Playing tag in Lockport

Lockport's warning blitz on illegal front-yard parking ended Tuesday, but of the 313 cars on the list, there's at least one that wasn't actually tagged by building inspectors.

Chief Building Inspector James P. McCann said that he received a phone call one morning from a Lowertown resident who was at work, inquiring why his neighbor's car had been tagged by the city.

McCann explained that the city is working on a crackdown against violators of the 1948 ordinance that bans parking between the sidewalk and the curb or on front lawns. The caller's neighbor had been parked between the sidewalk and the curb, in the city right of way.

McCann said the man told him, "My wife and I were gone by the time you got there. We do that, too. Better put us on the list."

"He blew himself in!" said the amazed McCann.

The eyes have it

It could be a long year for the County Legislature's Human Resources Committee.

At the newly staffed panel's inaugural meeting last week, Chairman Malcolm A. Needler, R-North Tonawanda, was suffering with a lack of participation from his apathetic troops.

After several long moments of silence while seeking a second for a routine motion, Needler looked at Legislator Renae Kimble, D-Niagara Falls.

"I don't want to participate," Kimble said.

"Well, you're the only one making eye contact," Needler replied.

Waiting for new broom?

Back at the somnolent Human Resources Committee meeting, Legislator Robert R. Villani, R-Town of Niagara, dared to come up with an actual legislative proposal: to save money on personnel by having buildings share cleaners.

This arose when the Public Works Department asked to fill three vacant cleaner positions, one in each of three buildings -- in three cities.

Robin DeVoe, deputy public works commissioner, was unenthusiastic about sharing. "There's no plan," he told Villani.

"Can we get a plan?" Villani asked.

"If we get one from Workforce 2000," replied DeVoe, referring to a consultant's report on county personnel use.

It doesn't look good for sharing cleaners.

De-lighted you asked

Even the most up-to-date and most stunning technological advances have their shortcomings.

As Richard Witkowski, director of information systems at Mount St. Mary's Hospital and Health Center, gleefully demonstrated all the latest computer and Internet technology that the hospital has been installing to make patient care faster and better, a reporter asked what happens when the lights go out.

Witkowski laughed and said then we all go back to the "old-fashioned" methods -- telephones and pieces of paper.

Fiscal gamesmanship?

Officials from the city and school district will meet again on March 7 to discuss ways they can save taxpayers money by sharing services. The sharing got off to a rocky start because of tensions between Mayor Irene J. Elia and School Superintendent Carmen A. Granto and School Board President Don J. King.

But City Administrator Albert T. Joseph said last week the city and district have begun sharing computer capabilities, backing each other up and saving on emergency repair calls when things break down. City and school employees from other departments have been meeting to look for opportunities where they can collaborate.

Sal Maglie Stadium, however, isn't going to be part of the equation, Joseph insisted. The City Council eliminated funding for maintenance and operation of the stadium from the 2001 on the belief that the school district was willing and able to take on the task. But Elia has resisted. And Joseph this week was emphatic that the city administration is "not planning to turn over" the stadium despite the lack of funds to pay for it.

"We'll find the money. We will maintain that stadium in A-one condition," he said.

Well, maybe they'll share the ball.

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